Still sexy at 68: Jane Seymour as she is today
Don’t you hate those thirtysomethings who trill that they can’t get a drink at the bar because — would you believe it — they look so positively childlike the barman wants to see their ID?
Well, actress Jane Seymour has gone one better. It may be a whole 46 years since she sent pulses racing as sweetly sexy Bond girl Solitaire in Live And Let Die. But, now pushing 70, the grandmother with four children and two stepchildren says she still looks so young, directors refuse to give her roles befitting her age.
In fact, they doubt there’s any way she can look much over 50, frankly.
‘They see my photo of me in a swimming costume on Instagram and they think I look too young,’ she bemoans, flicking that famous auburn mane. Oh, boo hoo. Poor Jane.
While it’s a refreshing change from all those actresses who complain that roles wither at the first hint of a wrinkle, it’s enough to make you want to slap her.
Smouldering in 1973: Jane Seymour as sweetly sexy Bond girl Solitaire in Live And Let Die
Only, damn it, Jane, 68, is right. Lithe and dewy-skinned, even her hands — normally as reliable a marker of age as rings around an oak tree — look like they belong to a woman a decade younger.
If a director was looking for a gnarly old hag to fill a character role, I’d say Jane Seymour’s CV would most definitely end up in the bin. You’d probably cast her as a foxy fiftysomething — someone’s glamorous mother or mistress. Look on Instagram, however, and she might struggle to convince even in those roles. In January, she was pictured in a blue swimsuit on a boat in Hawaii, looking half her age, and again in the summer in Los Angeles and Europe.
Jane pictured with her cheating fourth husband James Keach
It’s not as if her life has been plain sailing. Her fourth husband cheated on her, leaving her ‘devastated’, and husband No 3 had already lost the family fortune. Plucky, fiercely hard-working and determinedly upbeat, you can’t help warming to her.
Jane herself can definitely see the funny side of having to prove — beg even — that she’s old enough to play an old part.
‘It happened most recently when I was asked to meet producer Chuck Lorre for the role of Alan Arkin’s girlfriend in his show The Kominsky Method,’ says Jane.
‘Alan is over 80, so they needed me to look a similar vintage. Chuck was dubious. I said: “Trust me. I’ve had no cosmetic surgery, so my face still moves and I’ve got plenty of wrinkles. Add in the right clothes and bit of acting and all I need is a grey wig.” ’
The transformation worked so well that — with her wig in place — even the show’s star Michael Douglas didn’t recognise Jane, despite them having known each other for decades.
‘He came up to me, put out his hand and said: “Hello, I’m Michael.” He freaked out when he realised,’ she laughs.
Jane is quietly confident that in the new series of The Kominsky Method (which began on Netflix yesterday), she will look so convincingly grannyish roles will pour in. ‘It’s great to play the younger roles, but there are terrific roles for women of 70 that I know I can play, too — with or without a grey wig,’ she says.
So, come on, Jane, what exactly have you had done? Surely, there must have been the occasional discreet nip and tuck?
‘Hand on heart, the only surgery I’ve had was a small operation to remove the bags under my eyes some 30 years ago,’ she says, firmly. ‘That wasn’t even to do with age — I was born with slight bags.
‘I also had a boob job when I was 40. Even then, the surgeon was eager for me to go a great deal bigger. I was adamant that I just wanted my old boobs refilled, as it were — I’d lost definition after breastfeeding.’
Her children are: Katie, 37, and Sean, 34, from her marriage to businessman David Flynn, plus 23-year-old twins John and Kris, from her 20-year partnership with actor and director James Keach.
She has a stepson, Kalen Keach, and a stepdaughter, Jenni Flynn.
There are also two granddaughters, Katie’s little girls, Willa, six, and Luna, three; a grandson, Jenni’s son, Rowan, seven; and Kalen’s children, Sierra, Dylan and Denver.
But she says that was it with cosmetic surgery: ‘I am so pleased I was never tempted to do more. Messing with your face is so risky.’
So what about Botox?
Jane admits to trying it years ago. ‘I hated the effect. My brows were so raised I looked like a unicorn — and, as an actress, I realised I needed my facial muscles to move,’ she says. ‘I’m lucky to have fairly olive skin, which I abused horribly when I was younger.’ As a young actress, Jane was so eager to get a tan she even took tips from actor George Hamilton, whose permatan at its peak was enough to make David Dickinson look wan and pasty.
‘George persuaded me to lie in the sun with a reflective shield in front of my face, soaking up maximum sunlight,’ she shudders.
‘Now, of course, I always wear a big floppy hat and skin protection. I have a pretty simple beauty routine — I don’t have time for facials or peels. But I’m fanatical about cleaning my skin. I exfoliate and slap on a face mask while I’m making phone calls or galloping around the house.
‘I also use a retinol cream, Rejuvenate by Skinbetter Science, every night, which I’m convinced promotes cell turnover and I use a hyaluronic cream, Timeless Skin Care, as a moisturiser.’
For years, Jane has been the poster girl for a body cream called Crepe Erase, which she credits with reducing the appearance of wrinkles. And, as for that famous mane of hair, she cheerfully admits it comes out of a bottle. It would be nothing short of a miracle if it didn’t.
She visits the hairdresser religiously every three weeks to banish any stray greys.
Her eyes, however, by rights ought to belong to a much younger woman. ‘The optician says I’m the only person of my age he knows with 20:20 vision,’ she says. ‘It must be all the carrots I ate as a girl.’
And, if anything, her lithe figure is even more impressively youthful. A ballerina as a child, she has been practising Pilates and Gyrotonics several times a week for almost 40 years and now adds in light weights.
Enviably, she claims to have none of the aches and pains to which most women reaching 70 are prone. There’s zero chance of Jane grunting with discomfort as she eases herself out of a chair.
So much so that there’s every chance we will see Instagram snaps of a swimwear-clad Jane for years to come. ‘I do hope so,’ she laughs. ‘Although I’m alert to that moment when a discreet sarong might be necessary.’
You don’t get a whippet-thin figure like Jane’s with cheesecake and wine on tap. She admits she has to be careful — a single glass of wine and the odd bag of Maltesers or Twiglets specially sent to Malibu from England count as serious indulgences.
However, she has put on 10lb —pushing her weight up to just over 9st for the first time in decades.
‘I’ve gone up a whole dress size, which has actually been great for my face,’ she says. ‘If you get too thin, the wrinkles start showing.’ She is coy about attributing the weight gain to anything in particular. But it’s a fair bet it’s got quite a lot to do with her happy love life. And that, in turn, is thanks to her boyfriend of five years, film producer David Green, 70.
We are chatting over lunch (a healthy bowl of salad Jane has grown herself) at her seaside home. There are all the celebrity trappings one would expect: tennis courts, palm trees, a pool and an outdoor bar big enough to host a crowd scene from Wedding Crashers.
It’s a star-studded area. Neighbours include Simon Cowell and Cher — handy if Jane ever changes her mind on cosmetic surgery and wants a recommendation.
She wakes every morning to a breathtaking view of the sea and the comforting sight of the devoted David appearing with a morning cup of coffee. ‘I feel so supported,’ says Jane. ‘He doesn’t even flinch when a team of people arrive at 3am to do my hair and make-up for a photoshoot. Because he’s in the business, he completely understands the odd hours I work.’
It’s not a one-way street. David, who directed Buster starring Julie Walters and Phil Collins, and more recently produced the wildly successful reality TV series Bridezilla, is a fanatical Manchester City fan.
‘He’s a total soccer maniac,’ Jane laughs. ‘He’s promised me there’s no way he’s ever going to be unfaithful because he’s already got a mistress — Manchester City.’
Incongruously, Jane found herself on one of their first dates being invited on to the pitch to kick a ball. Heaven alone knows what spectators made of the sight of the former Bond girl. ‘We ended up in the boardroom and they took me on to the field and gave me a ball to kick. I’m there with my Man City scarf, leg flailing like a ballerina,’ she laughs.
Jane met David through her childhood friend, novelist Sally Emerson. ‘David was at Oxford with Sally’s husband, Sir Peter Stothard, former editor of The Times,’ says Jane. ‘David bought the film rights to her first novel, so that’s when I first heard his name. We saw each other socially over the years. Then, six years ago, Sally was staying with me and planned to have brunch with David. I insisted she invite him here.
‘We were both single, with children of similar ages — David has three children, Jessica, Samuel and Jacob. We had both just come out of long marriages. We had lunch and then dinner. We realised we had too much in common not to be together.’
But Jane is firm that she doesn’t plan to marry again. ‘What’s the point when we are so happy as we are?’ she asks. ‘We aren’t going to have children, so there really is no incentive.’
Who can blame her after four husbands — her first two marriages, to Michael Attenborough when she was just 20, and Geoffrey “Geep” Planer, older brother of actor Nigel Planer — were ‘blink-and-you-miss-them’ affairs lasting barely two years each.
Jane was deeply wounded by the collapse of her most recent marriage to actor-director James Keach in 2013.
Although there have been rumours that he had an affair, Jane has never admitted the painful truth, until now. ‘Choices were made that I couldn’t live with,’ she says, choosing her words carefully.
‘I thought we were going to be married for ever, but James made a choice that I wasn’t privy to. He found someone else. I felt horrible, devastated.
‘I don’t do well with betrayal. If someone says: “Things aren’t good, let’s separate,” it would be different. But I was never privy to that conversation.
‘By the time I found out — entirely by accident — it had been going on for some time, so that was that. It was someone I knew, so that was very frightening.
‘I tried to figure something out, but I realised that the marriage wasn’t going to work. We are friends now, and were always determined to be good parents, but it was devastating at the time.’
The timing was terrible. ‘I felt so vulnerable. My self-confidence took a real knock. I tried a bit of dating — not anything like Tinder. That sounds just horrible. But friends introduced me to friends. However, there was never a spark.’
It’s not the first time Jane has felt betrayed.
‘Her third marriage to businessman David Flynn — the father of her two elder children — collapsed after Jane discovered that he had lost their family fortune. ‘He was my husband and business manager so, of course, I trusted him,’ she says. ‘But he had invested in all kinds of business transactions that I knew nothing about.
‘By the time I found out, everything had gone. It was horrendous. I felt so angry and betrayed.’
Only the arrival of her starring role in Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman — the series that ran from 1993 to 1998 — saved her fortunes.
‘I was penniless and homeless, then this television role dropped like manna from heaven.
‘The production company literally gave me and the children a roof over our heads.’
And perhaps this is one of the most unexpected things about Jane. She may look like a fragile English rose, but she’s got the survival instinct of Japanese knotweed and a knack for turning her talents into hard cash.
As well as acting, she paints (her oil paintings sell for as much as £45,000), designs for furniture brand Michael Amini and has a jewellery line, Open Hearts.
She’s also absolutely determined to see the best in everything. ‘You can do: “Why me?” for a little while, but then you have to stop and go: “Why not me?’’ she says.
‘My wonderful mother, Mieke, survived three-and-a-half years in a Japanese concentration camp. It left her determined to embrace challenges.
‘I try to live by her mantra: to try to accept whatever happens, however difficult it seems, because there’s always someone worse off and — through helping them — your problems seem diminished.’
Remarkably, both exes David and James, complete with their new partners, will be invited to join Jane, boyfriend David and their assorted children for Thanksgiving.
‘We are all family, even if we have moved in different directions,’ she says. ‘I’m simply not prepared to look back. It’s pointless, particularly when I have so much to be happy and thankful for.
‘All my husbands have been great men. I loved them all.’
There may have been pain. There may have been heartache. But nothing, it seems, is going to shift this very spritely Bond girl from her philosophy . . . live and let live.